Meet Anneliese Hallsten Narayan Member of the Community Council

Annie Narayan joined Wayfinder’s Community Council in January 2024, but her involvement with the organization began more than five years earlier when she and her husband, Shawn, decided to become foster parents. “We looked at different agencies, and we felt like Wayfinder was the best fit,” she says. “We felt we would get the most support from Wayfinder.”

Expecting to foster a pair of siblings up to age 10, Annie and Shawn had prepared a room for older children. They did not anticipate getting a call from a Wayfinder social worker asking if they would foster newborn twins. The babies, a boy and a girl, were in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit due to drug exposure in the womb. The girl, Gemma, was ready to be discharged that day! 

While Shawn and Annie headed to the NICU with a newly purchased car seat to bring Gemma home, Annie’s mother shopped for essential baby items. John, the boy, was discharged a few weeks later, just before the Covid-19 pandemic caused hospitals to prohibit visitors.  

The Narayans fostered John and Gemma for 18 months and finalized the adoption in July 2021. Annie became very involved with support groups and the adoption community in Sacramento. “When I had a little extra time to give, my heart was telling me to go to Wayfinder,” Annie says. She joined the Community Council because, “I wanted to give back to the agency that made the foundation of our family possible.”  

The Community Council raises awareness and funds that support Wayfinder’s important work for children and families in Northern California. 

“Wayfinder provided the support and community that my husband and I needed when fostering our children and deciding to adopt them,” says Annie. “Being a foster or adoptive parent is very isolating and hard. Wayfinder created a community for families to support one another and made the work easier.” 

Annie and Shawn were sponsors of Wayfinder’s annual Derby Day fundraising event, and Annie secured sponsorships and auction items. She also donated one of her talents by preparing all the floral arrangements. 

The adoptive mother who spoke at Derby Day 2024 was a member of the support group that Annie co-leads. “Derby Day was so fantastic,” Annie recalls. While the adoptive mother told her story, Annie watched the crowd. “I saw people gain an understanding of Wayfinder’s work. When they realized the impact of adoption, I saw their eyes fill up with tears,” she says. “I thought, yes, this is what I was meant to do.”

Annie enjoys supporting Wayfinder as a member of the Community Council. “One thing that’s great about the Community Council is that it is made up of people who have been impacted by adoption or have a heart for adoption,” says Annie. “It makes for a strong force.” 

For more information on joining the Community Council, please contact Vanessa Botshekan at

June 25, 2024